October 22, 2009

Parental Yelling Experts Declare Parental Yelling Crisis

I know this should be in the Friday Freakout, but hey. The New York Times reports that this generation of parents is yelling at their kids in unprecedented numbers. This, according to authors of books on parental yelling, actresses starring in one-mom, off-off-Broadway shows about yelling at kids, and mombloggers who write yellblogs.

"It isn't the yelling per se that's going to make a difference, it's how the yelling is interpreted," said Ronald P. Rohner, director of the Ronald and Nancy Rohner Center for the Study of Interpersonal Acceptance and Rejection at the University of Connecticut.
The who of the what at the where?? You've got to be kidding me.
Professor Rohner noted that while spanking is considered taboo by the major medical and psychological associations, there are still some religious and conservative groups who support it as an effective disciplinary tool, believing that the Bible explicitly allows it.

But, he said, "There is no group of Americans that advocate yelling as a parenting style."

"My bottom-line recommendation is don't yell," he said. "It is a risk factor for a family."

Uh-huh. So it's not that we yell any more than our parents ever did; it's that we yell because we can't smack our kids anymore? Oh wait, no. Here's the real news hook, if you can call it that:
To research their book "Mommy Guilt: Learn to Worry Less, Focus on What Matters Most, and Raise Happier Kids," the three authors, Devra Renner, Aviva Pflock and Julie Bort, commissioned a survey of 1,300 parents across the country to determine sources of parental guilt. Two-thirds of respondents named yelling -- not working or spanking or missing a school event -- as their biggest guilt inducer.
Aha. Good thing there's not an entire industry of self-appointed parenting experts planting bullshit trend stories designed to shame parents into buying their books or anything.

For Some Parents, Shouting Is the New Spanking [nyt]

8 Comments

Thank you! I read it and rolled my eyes. The good news for you is that even though the article refers to "parents" yelling a lot, there's not one example of a *dad* yelling at his kids and/or feeling guilty about it. So it's really a *mom* problem. Plus, why was it in the Fashion & Style section online???

I yell, but not often, and it's never been "you worthless whatever" it's been "I can't believe you cut your new blanket into washcloths" sort of thing.

It does sound rather made-to-sell-books. I don't feel guilt about spanking because I don't spank my kids. There is no validity to say that yelling makes parents more guilty than spanking; it's like saying yelling makes parents more guilty than mailing their kids to the Antarctic. It has no meaning, except to shill books, as you noted.

Good morning Greg! Thanks for your write up about the NYT article. In fact, if I hadn't read your blog post I never would have noticed the incorrect reference made about our survey. We never discussed spanking in our book so we really have no idea if parents feel more or less guilty about spanking vs. yelling. More importantly, we know yelling happens! None of us is alone in this one. Yelling is a quick, easy reaction to a frustrating, dangerous, or otherwise upsetting situation and we ALL do it – self included. Unfortunately, the Times did not choose to expand the article with tips and tricks to help get us out of the yelling rut. Even more unfortunate, it would appear from the hundreds of comments, the article left us with one more thing to feel lousy about. I do not believe it was the intent of the article, but it is how it came off in the end. Yelling has its place; I don’t think I would quietly tell my child to get out of the street if I saw a car coming! We all make mistakes and yell when a different reaction may be more appropriate, but we can use this for a great opportunity to speak with our kids about emotions and ask them for a do-over for a change. As for selling more books - Mommy Guilt has been out for a few years now and I would be just as happy to see someone check it out at the library. It is a book that knows parents are the experts when it comes to their children. We just happen to be the experts on letting parents know that.

This reminds me of a recent quote in the NY Times article:

...Some people who wouldn’t dream of spanking choose instead to discipline their young children by forcibly isolating them, a tactic we prefer to call “time out.”...from: When a Parent’s ‘I Love You’ Means ‘Do as I Say' by Alfie Kohn. NY Times 09.14.09

Ah yes-- the evil "time out".

I just went back and read the actual article in the Times. I think one problem is that it doesn't really define "yelling." For some people, yelling means screaming horrible insults at others at the top of one's lungs. For others it means hollering your kid's name out loud, so they will pay attention to you.

There are a lot of flavors of yelling and it would be wise to acknowledge that before getting into a serious discussion on the topic.

The photos they used with the article certainly don't help the situation either.

that's the 3d or 4th time I've heard of time out as "forcible isolation." Someone is propagating the idea.

And that would be Alfie Kohn, who uses forcible isolation as an example of parents withholding love to force kids to do what they [the parents] want, and the opposite of his approach, which is unconditional love, which is asking what kids need. It's a construct.

I just read this bit on "time out" rooms in schools and remembered your last comment... man, when I was a kid they just beat us with a leather strap, none of this inhumane "sitting in a big empty room" treatment.

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